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Dunkin’ pushing cashiers to ‘upsell’ in afternoons

Dunkin’ Donuts said upselling is part of an effort to increase sales after the morning rush.
Dunkin’ Donuts said upselling is part of an effort to increase sales after the morning rush.(Mark Lennihan/Associated Press/File 2014)

NEW YORK — If an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts is part of your afternoon routine, expect a nudge to buy a cookie or doughnut you didn’t plan on.

Dunkin’ Brands Group chief executive Nigel Travis said in a phone interview Thursday that the Canton, Mass., company is pushing to get its cashiers to ‘‘upsell’’ to afternoon customers. It’s part of an effort to increase sales after stores have emptied out after the morning rush. In the afternoon, customers who do come in are mostly just searching for a drink.

Upselling of this kind is common. Who hasn’t been asked ‘‘Would you like fries with that?’’ But isn’t a strategy Dunkin’ has aggressively pushed in the past, because most the chain’s business is in the morning when customers are in a rush and speed is the top priority. ‘‘People tend to be in a slightly different mode in the afternoon,’’ Travis said. ‘‘In the afternoon, they tend to be more relaxed.’’

For Dunkin’, that means cashiers can take the extra few seconds to ask customers if they want a doughnut, a cookie, or even a sandwich along with that coffee. Travis said the need to upsell would be emphasized in an upcoming talk with US franchisees.

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As an extra temptation, the company has also been rolling out small cases in some stores to display items like cookies and Danishes more prominently at the counter.

It’s a tried-and-true strategy. The head of the US division for McDonald’s Corp., Jeff Stratton, has said in a past interview with the AP that keeping the chain’s apple pie dispensers visible to customers right behind the cashier helps drive sales.

Attracting more customers in the afternoons — and getting them to buy more when they visit — is critical for Dunkin’ Donuts, with convenience stores, fast-food chains, and packaged food companies all pushing into the breakfast business. Dunkin’ cited that competition Thursday as one of the reasons for its underwhelming sales increase of 1.8 percent at established US locations in the latest quarter.

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